The Backburner (A Guest Post by The Millenial)
Updated: Jun 25, 2022
We all have to eat, point-blank. We all need money to survive. If you’re starving, you can’t wait 12 hours for a pot roast to slow cook before you can partake. You have to make those instant noodles because you don’t have the time to wait for the roast. It’s the same way with your work. We often can’t wait for, or simply go all-in on our dream jobs, but that doesn't mean we let just let them die...
Take a moment and think about this:
A silent multi-millionaire made a lottery-style system to choose the heir to their fortune, and you are the winner. You have just inherited all the money you will ever need in the world and will never have to worry about financial stress again…..
So, what do you do with the money? After you buy everything you’ve ever wanted, what else is there? What do you want to contribute to society? What do you want to be remembered for? What do you truly want to accomplish?
If you can answer at least one of the questions, you have what I like to call your slow roast...
Everyone wants to be great – to contribute to society or be recognized by it in a meaningful way. That’s the slow roast, and it takes a lot of time or a lot of preparation to cook properly. If you rush it because you’re hungry, it’s not tender or juicy, if you forget about it cooking back there, it will fall apart to nothing, or become too tough to eat.
So what do you do when you’re hungry now, but still want that roast?
Let me introduce you to The Backburner.
The Backburner is where you put your roast while you’re handling your immediate needs. While you’re cooking those noodles to take care of yourself now, that roast is back there simmering.
In the same way, while you’re working a temporary job to pay rent and not starve, your roast needs to be simmering. It’s not easy to become an artist, author, musician, researcher, business owner, or so many other things when you have to focus on surviving. So while you're working, treat it as a hobby and work on your dream goals when you have a little free time throughout the day. Let them continue to simmer.
I joined the military because I couldn’t do the things I truly wanted, and that was the best way to have security and consistent income so that I could take care of my needs. After a few years, I developed the framework for a fantasy series. This was going on in the background for 6 years before I became disabled due to an injury while on active duty. Now that I can’t do much physical work, I have all the time that I need to focus on a well-developed fantasy series that's just been sitting there waiting for me to hit the ground running with it. I can finally enjoy this "juicy roast" that I let slow-cook on my stove, and impact the world in another meaningful way.
Just like me, most people can’t pursue their dreams right away, and that's okay, but that doesn't mean taking them completely off the "stove" or letting them sit so long that they'll fall apart. Move them to the backburner as I did and let them simmer. That way, when you do have the opportunity to pursue them fully, you are already ahead of the version of you that gave them up because “it’s not realistic", or achievable at the moment.