“But there are many of us retirees who were very good at what we did to earn a living and who’d be happy to return to work, because we miss its challenges.”
That’s sad if there is nothing else in your life to provide challenges.
My retirement phase started when I and a co-worker had some daily discussions about what it would take to ‘have enough to retire’. There were half a dozen retirement planners on line at the time (similar to FireCalc now) that would let you run all the scenarios. You could adjust inflation expectations, expected market growth over inflation (putting in both inflation and expected portfolio return), allocation, etc.
One conclusion became quite obvious. If you had ‘more than enough to comfortably retire’ using all the scenarios you set up (assuming an outcome no worse than at any previous time in history for portfolio survival), then
YOU WERE ESSENTIALLY WORKING FOR FREE. Yes, If you didn’t need your salary to accumulate more to retire…you were WORKING FOR FREE, earning money you didn’t need.
Even worse… YOU WERE WORKING TO PAY HIGH ANNUAL TAXES AND EVENTUALLY PROBABLY large estate taxes. (at the time, Uncle Sam took 55% of everything over $650,000 in your estate - some states even more)…
So you die earning more money for Uncle Sam to confiscate - when you die, plus years of FICA and FICA2 at nearly 10% of your earnings, plus of course regular income taxes both fed and state.
So…why should I work ‘for free’? That’s what many are doing when they could retire and don’t.
Too many wait till they have health issues, or spouse has them.
My BIL took a nice early retirement at age 60 - after layoff from IBM at 50, then ten more year of work. My sis went back to work at age 55 and enjoyed her work a lot. She kept working till she was 68, when my BIL suddenly came down with pancreatic cancer. Dead in a year at age 69. My sis had to take care of him the last 9 months…in and out of hospitals, operations, surgery, home care nurses. Really bad. They were looking forward to a nice retirement. She would have retired at 70. So it goes. You never know when the grim reaper arrives.
All you can do is take care of your health. Stay healthy and eat a decent diet, exercise, don’t smoke (13 year loss of years for smoking), do drugs, etc.
When an opportunity came up to grab an early retirement package at age 52.5, I took it. My boss couldn’t believe I’d leave ‘my professional career’ so early… Ha…Been saving 1/3rd my salary for 15 years.
Been retired 24 years now.
Not all can retire early but to keep working because of the ‘challenge’ is perhaps taking those years away where they could travel in good health, get really involved in hobbies and activities, etc. Then they get sick or have disability problems and don’t enjoy retirement the way they could have.
I’m sure all the stress of ‘an important job’ solving problems isn’t the greatest for longevity either. Those bad days at work total up. The smartest thing you can do is transfer your knowledge to the next generation of workers so they can do just as good a job as you! Then retire!