It’s March—which means that women are celebrating women’s month all across the globe. It’s our month when we get to enjoy our successes and look back in warranted pride to see how far we’ve come. So, I am raising my glass to all you wonderful women out there—cheers to all of us. At the same time, let’s also look at areas where we could get better. There is always room for improvement, as they say. And I’d like to zero in on the particular area of being strong mentally.

Think of this as a checklist for yourself as you evaluate—am I mentally strong? If you are, fantastic. If there are areas where you could get even stronger (as there are for us all), then you will find this list helpful.

Psychotherapist and psychology instructor Amy Morin wrote a book entitled 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do. The good news, she writes, is that mental strength can be developed, just like physical strength. Increase your good habits, and lessen your bad ones.

Yes, it’s that simple.

She writes that gender can play a part in developing both good and bad habits, and she tackles the habits that women are more prone to adopt. “Cultural expectations, societal pressures, and the subtle differences in the way we raise girls are just a few of the factors that encourage women to engage in these unhealthy habits.”

Looking to build physical fitness as well as mental strength? Here’s how you can Find the Perfect Workout for Your Lifestyle!

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Cool, right? So let’s dive in into Morin’s checklist to see how mentally strong we are.

1. Do you compare yourself with others?

Social media can be our worst friend in this aspect. But keeping your eyes on everyone else means your view is away from your own goals—that’s how counterproductive it is.

2. Do you insist on perfection?

Morin emphasizes that perfection causes us to experience great levels of stress, and ironically enough, sabotages our performance. She outlines that high expectations are good, but perfection is a big no.

3. Do you see vulnerability as a weakness?

This is hard for so many us, I know. But it does us only good to admit our weaknesses and to ask for help when we need it. We don’t always have all the answers.

4. Do you let self-doubt prevent you from achieving your dreams?

We are big second-guessers, right? We don’t believe that we are good/smart/talented/competent/experienced/attractive enough to get what we really want. Don’t let your own thoughts trip you up. Just go for it.

5. Do you overthink everything?

Oh, I have been guilty of this so many times in the past! I used to overanalyze a thing half to death, staying awake at night wondering if I have said the right words to my boss in an email. Morin is right, it’s a terrible waste of time, and just adds more stress to life.

6. Do you run away when the going gets tough?

Do you go into flight mode when challenges arise? I’m not talking about physically leaving. More like avoiding situations like being given a chance for a promotion, or needing to have an honest conversation with someone close to you. Put on your big girl pants and just take the plunge.

7. Are you afraid to break the rules?

This is not about driving at 100 kilometers an hour in a 40-kilometer zone—you understand that, right? It’s just that we women are conditioned to be very good girls who keep all the rules. But sometimes you just have to stick your neck out and break a rule or two. Think of all the women who broke through glass ceilings when they were told they couldn’t.

8. Do you put others down in order to boost yourself up?

Maybe you don’t mean to, but sometimes we end up putting a spotlight on someone else’s mistakes because it makes us look better. It’s not worth it, and if you look deep inside, that’s not what your authentic self really thinks is worth doing.

9. Do you let someone else set limits on your potential?

It could be your parents, older siblings (who think they know you so well), or maybe even your significant other. They may say something that dampens your passion for something, and you find yourself discouraged from pursuing it. Don’t allow this to happen. Be the mistress of your own destiny.

10. Do you blame yourself when things go south?

Self-blame is one of the best ways to stop you from progressing. Let’s face it, bad outcomes happen to us all, it’s part of life. And yes, sometimes, things are your fault. But be able to draw the line between your character and your mistakes, forgive yourself and move on.

11. Do you refuse to speak up?

Oh my—this is still part of our ‘good girl’ conditioning, isn’t it? We are trained to sit back and let the others (many times the men) do the talking. You have something important to contribute to every conversation, to every meeting that you’re in. Not that you want to hog the spotlight, but when you do have something to say, speak up!

12. Are you reluctant to reinvent yourself?

Here’s another truth nugget: you won’t be the same person in your 30s, 40s, or 50s that you were in your 20s. People evolve, it’s part of the beauty of life. You updated your look regularly, right? The same goes with your personality, career choice, lifestyle, etc.

13. Are you afraid of owning your success?

There’s modesty, and there’s the fear of coming across as over ambitions or even arrogant. But you know that your successes are hard-earned. Own that. Bask in it. That’s far more truthful than denying what a success you are.

If you’d like to read more about How To Overcome Mental Blocks and Be More Productive, we’ve got you covered.

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Well… how did you do?

As you went through the items in the checklist above, were you able to check some off? Maybe some made you wince a little bit because you know that it applies to you.

That’s all right. The reason the checklist is here is to help you identify the bad habits that prevent you from becoming mentally strong, as well as practice the good habits to get you there.


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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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