I'm Helen McLaughlin, a coach, writer, and artist. A seeker and a doer. A mover and a shaker. A small steps enthusiast and the founder of Action Oriented.

I'm also a wonderer*. Can't forget that one.

*(A thinker. A marveler. Someone who is curious about something. In my case, though, 'something' is 'everything.')

Because we're usually drawn to likeminded folks, I'm going to assume you're a wonderer, too—and I'll go ahead and tell you everything about me that I'd want to know about you.

where i'm based 

My husband, Dana, and I spent two years living on the road together (one of those years was in a 34-foot motorhome!) and have only recently (June 2017) traded in our full-time nomadic status for homeownership in Appleton, Wisconsin. Our motley assortment of succulents now lives on a windowsill in our kitchen, instead of in a basket in the backseat of our car. They're much happier. So are we.

my background

I'm trained and certified through the Courageous Living Coach Certification (2015). I have an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia (2009) and a BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from Goucher College (2005).

I've worked as an editorial assistant, a nanny, a caregiver to a nonverbal child with autism, a personal shopper for a popular clothing retailer, an admissions officer at a girls' boarding school, and an administrative assistant in a university's physics department. In my experience, life and career are anything but linear.

how i got here

I landed in the coaching world after an existential crisis in my early 30s prompted me to question how I was spending my time and to seek out (or create for myself) more meaningful work.

I embarked on Laura Simms's revolutionary career change program, Your Career Homecoming, and was utterly gobsmacked when coaching later emerged as my top career contender. I'd always thought coaching was woo-woo (meaning: dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific)—and I don't do woo. Not really, anyway. So, imagine my surprise when I realized good coaching (at least the kind I've come to subscribe to) is all about helping folks to examine, challenge, and then shift the beliefs they have about themselves and the world—so that they can create the reality they want. In an entirely non-woo way (well, mostly; woo is optional).


Feeling is a byproduct of action, not a prerequisite for it.

Play is the antidote to perfectionism. Curiosity is the antidote to rigidity.

There's nothing stopping you from being, doing, and having whatever you want. If you can imagine it, you can create it.

Your thoughts —> your beliefs —> your words —> your reality

who informs my approach

I’m obsessed with—and follow—the philosophies of super coaches Steve Chandler and Michael Neill, the teachings of Byron Katie, and the money mindset work of Jen Sincero and Pam Grout. I’ve been deeply impacted by the coaching of Rich Litvin, JP Morgan Jr., and Heidi Taylor. My own coach-turned-friend, Caroline Leon, influences who I’m becoming daily.


INFP. HSP. Taurus. Empathy superpower. Pescatarian. Kansas City born, Long Island raised, Baltimore/Charlottesville educated, Appleton settled.

ready (OR NOT), set, go

I help people get serious about their Big, "Impossible" Things...and take small, tangible, and consistent steps toward actualizing them. Learn how I can help you make a plan for going after and getting your dream.