Twenty years ago, in 1984, a young commercial airline pilot decided he needed a financial plan. With roughly $50,000 in investments, a house, and a small piece of rental property, Fred's net worth was just over $138,000. Today, at age 49, Fred's net worth is $3.6 million and growing. More important, he's living a life he loves. The results he achieved may sound spectacular, but Fred simply followed the seven keys to total wealth and abundance - seven simple steps that anyone can use.


Key #1: Take Time to Create a Compelling Vision


I'm sure you've heard about the power of a vision. Athletes tap into it all the time. They rehearse their future success over and over in their minds, and then go out and do it for real.


You don't have to be an athlete to use visioning power. Fred wanted the ability to retire at age 50 if he needed or chose to when the time came. I encouraged Fred to refine his vision by thinking about what retiring at age 50 might include. You already know he achieved his goal. However, I failed to mention that he did it nine years early: Fred reached the million-dollar mark at age 41.


Key #2: Connect Your Vision to Your Values, Passion, and Purpose


As a pilot, Fred has the option of "bidding" for flights. Since different routes involve higher or lower pay, his choices affect his income. International flying, for example, pays more than domestic but it's harder on the body and requires more time away from home.

"Earlier in my career," he said, "I kept an eye on my income stream. As I got closer to the goals and got more comfortable with the fact that I was achieving them, I started bidding schedules that provided more time at home, even though the consequence was less money generated." Fred's story shows how easy it is to stay focused on your vision when it's aligned with your values, passion, and purpose.


Key #3: Educate Yourself and Find a Great Coach


Top professionals in all areas of life attribute their success to working with a coach. They know a good coach can help them get results, provide information and knowledge, and bring out the best in them. Coaching shortens the time required, reduces mistakes, and gives them a higher probability of getting what they want.


Key #4: Formulate and Implement a Measurable Plan


If a vision is the what, a plan represents the how. Fred had a clear and compelling vision: to be financially independent by age 50. Yet his vision alone wasn't enough. Fred needed a specific plan, consisting of attainable intermediate goals to be reached along the way.


Fred's plan listed certain very specific items, like bidding for flights to earn the income he desired, saving a certain amount of money each month, investing it according to a well-thought-out strategy, compiling net worth and cash flow statements to monitor his progress, and always staying focused on his ultimate vision. Even more important than formulating a plan, Fred actually implemented and followed through on it.


Key #5: Monitor Your Progress and Update the Plan as Needed


Remember: You can't manage what you don't measure. Keep this in mind from the very beginning, and start by setting measurable goals.


Monitoring your progress offers more than just feedback about your results. It lets you know when it's time to update your plan. When a plan isn't working, a slight change here or there can make all the difference in the world. Even better, if your plan's working so well that you're ahead of schedule, as Fred was, measuring it makes you aware of your progress and lets you take advantage of other available options.


Key #6: Enjoy Your Abundance


When it comes to the concept of wealth, many people are wrapped up in the idea that they need to save, invest, and build their money, while forgetting its real purpose. Money was never intended to be hoarded; it's meant to be used and enjoyed.


What could you "invest" in that would add to your life? A digital photography class? Computer training? Golf lessons? A special vacation with your entire family? Fred practiced win-win thinking by working hard, saving money, and enjoying the abundance he produced. Even when he was young and saving in a disciplined way, he always had hobbies and enjoyed a good balance in his life.


Key #7: Leave a Lasting Legacy


The probabilities are very high that you'll have money and financial assets left over when you reach the end of the proverbial road. What will happen to all those assets you've accumulated during your lifetime? More important, what do you want to have happen?


Financial bequests aren't the only way to leave your mark upon the world. Who you are and what you do makes an equally powerful impact. You may never know exactly whom you affect, but you can be sure that you're putting the wheels in motion when you incorporate key #7 into your plan for healthy longevity.