I wasn't always a fast eater. As a child I was the last person to finish my dinner. It felt as though I was at the dining table for hours each night.
But motherhood changed that overnight. I am now a really fast eater. I was having lunch with some colleagues yesterday and I noticed that I finished my chicken burger before they were more than half way through their salads. By the time a fourth colleague joined us with his burger my plate had been removed. The speed at which I eat is an automatic response and I usually don't realise until I have finished eating. Consequently, indigestion is a familiar foe.
The reason I eat fast is that my eating patterns became sporadic following the birth of my son. He was such high maintenance round the clock for many, many years that I rarely got to finish my meal if I didn't eat super fast. The only chance I had of it being even slightly warm was if I got to my meal immediately. As babies will inevitably need you at the precise moment that your lovely hot dinner hits the table, I endured many years of cold evening meals.
There are parallels between my eating speed and the urgency with which I try to achieve my career goals. The turning point with my career was not motherhood though. It was about a decade later when a former employer lowered a glass ceiling to my head. Until that point in my career I had goals to achieve, but the timeframe between each stage was really just as long as it took. That bump on my head shook me up. It raised my sights and increased my desire to smash through.
Since that day eight years ago my skill set has expanded quickly. I joined Boards, started a small business and threw myself into the new media that I had been told was the domain of people half my age. I stopped hesitating and second guessing myself because I realised I would effectively have less time to achieve my goals if there were barriers around them. The closer I get to a ceiling, the more I start to feel claustrophobic. The need to break out becomes heightened.
It's amazing how well we can adapt to challenges when under pressure, especially of time. Mothers of young children eat fast and career women facing inequity in the workplace learn to move fast. It's how we manage. At least it's how I have managed.
Have you noticed changes to your behaviour due to a turning point in your life? How did you manage it?
Marina Go is GM of Hearst-Bauer, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, ELLE and Cosmopolitan. She is also chair of the Wests Tigers, a director of Odyssey House McGrath Foundation and a member of the advisory boards of the Walkley Foundation, The Remarkables Group and Women's Agenda. She has an MBA from The AGSM and is a member of the AICD. Her new book is Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders.