5 Personal Success Strategies for Online Learning

“Say yes to something so completely that all other options are eliminated–including things that aren’t necessarily bad in themselves but that would distract you from pursuing the thing that is most important and valuable to you.”

I am excited to be returning to school. It has been a long time in coming. Over the past four years I worked very diligently to build my “one thing”, a marriage enrichment website, www.spousedates.com.  I have taken numerous online courses related to writing, blogging, building a website, and marriage.  I even wrote and self published a book through the process called Build a Better Marriage [ One Date at a Time ].

I will take the time and effort that had been focused on that, along with the lessons learned, and transfer them to my nursing program. Pursuing my Master of Science in Nursing at Indiana Wesleyan University has now become my “one thing”.

Boy Looking at Insects with Magnifying Glass


The following is my short plan on how to successfully return to school and still continue to function in all my required roles in my work and home. Whether building a website, writing a book or obtaining a graduate degree, I believe the following five ideas are hugely important. The supporting bullet points each reinforce the ideas and come from the article, 100 ways to overcome stress (2016).

1.  Block the time – Establish consistent chunks of time to attend to school work. Maintain routine study times.

Do one thing at a time.

Learn to say no and really mean it.

2.  Make a schedule – Preview coursework and mark due dates, especially for big assignments, put them on a master calendar along with the rest of life’s important stuff. Prioritize what matters most.

Eliminate unnecessary commitments.

Be realistic with the demands you put on yourself.

3.  Establish my workspace – Conscientiously set up my study environment, both physically and virtually, in such a way to allow me to focus as needed. Eliminate distractions.

Lighten your material load. More stuff = more stress!

Practice unplugging from the electronic world.

4.  Be adaptable – Remain flexible and open minded as I navigate the coursework. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.

Stop being a perfectionist and move on.

Let go of trying to control every

5.  Stay healthy – Maintain good exercise, sleep and eating routines.

Exercise every single day!

Eat for nourishment not for comfort.



100 ways to overcome stress. (2016). Retrieved from http://advancedlifeskills.com/blog/100-ways-to-overcome-stress/




Hi. My name is Steve Pare. I live in Cleveland, Ohio. Actually I live in a southwest suburb of Cleveland called North Royalton. I am originally from Portland, Maine and moved here in 2004 right after graduating from nursing school.

My initial career ambition was ministry and my first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Bible. I was bi-vocational while in ministry and worked as a nurse’s aide for 10 years. Eventually, I led a group that planted a church in Portland Maine and we tried for 5 years to get it off the ground, unsuccessfully. After that I adjusted course and got my Associate of Science in Nursing. Honestly, I did it primarily to feed my family, and I perceived that there was significant overlap with ministry, plus my uncle, who was a Catholic priest, offered to pay for it. Nursing had been our home’s bread and butter as an aid and it made sense to take it to the next level.

Honestly, I struggled with the idea of being a nurse for quite some time. I had never seen myself as a nurse, and I was biased toward the idea that nursing was a woman’s profession. Seems like a silly idea now, but the struggle was real.

My first nursing job after moving to Cleveland was on a geri-psych unit. I learned a lot. Then I got bored. Soon thereafter I decided I’d make the move toward nursing administration and while in the process of getting my MBA through Indiana Wesleyan, got a position as an ADON at a large inner city nursing home. I’d been a nurse for one year. Anyone else see red flags there? Talk about a crucible experience. I had no idea what I was getting into. Again, I learned a lot, but it only lasted about six months.

Fast forward five years of nursing home work, another short-lived manager position, and a failed small business venture, and I finally land a position working for Cleveland Clinic Hospice as a referral coordinator. I coordinated hospice and palliative medicine referrals in the hospital setting for about six years, educating patients and families about hospice, assessing patients for eligibility and coordinating hospital discharge. The MBA came in handy as I marketed hospice and home care services by building relationships with referral sources, including physicians, physician office staff, hospital case managers and social workers, nursing facilities, assisted and independent living facilities and other community agencies. I also organized and prepared educational programs for nursing staff about end of life care and for the community to foster awareness of hospice and home care services.

For the past 2 years, I have been an RN field case manager with the hospice program. Now my work consists primarily of managing the care of between 12-18 patients in their own homes or in nursing homes. I provide and coordinate care and social services for patients at the end of life and their families.

I have found my current line of work extremely rewarding. I hear from folks all the time how hard they think it must be to work with the dying. Sure, it is. But the opportunity to make a difference is huge. I feel like I get to walk on holy ground on a regular basis. It has deepened my spirituality and perspective of what really matters in life. Plus, whether they realize it or not, whether with words or meds or a touch or simply being present, I get to bring the comfort of Jesus to people who need it the most. That makes it all worth it.

I have been married to my lovely wife Chrissy for 25 years this coming June. We have four grown kids, two boys and two girls, all of whom we are super proud of. We have a St Bernard called Tinkerbelle. As far as hobbies, I have built a marriage enrichment website called Spouse Dates (www.spousedates.com). That has been my side gig for the past four years. I had hoped to turn it into a fulltime gig but after four years I am giving it a rest and setting it on autopilot (for the most part).

I am in the Post MBA-MSN program at Indiana Wesleyan. I plan to share my coursework here on this site.  I look forward to sharing the journey.