The way we work today is different than the way our grandparents worked. It’s faster, we’re on a never-ending quest for new data, and it’s hard to find time to get some perspective. At the same time, society is not always accommodating to us having challenging or meaningful work — be it due to the system we’re in or because people don’t believe there’s a need for better work.
Working at home is amazing. I start when I want to. I don’t have to squash into a bus or metro or get stuck in traffic. I drink as many cups of coffee (as long as it’s before 1 pm). I can spend the whole day with my dog wrapped around my ankles. I meet friends to practise speaking French.
But I can’t spend all my day doing whatever I want. I have to work. And I must motivate myself to do the work as there’s no one to crack the whip.
I have to wear many hats. I’m the person responsible for bringing in work and then doing the work. Then I’m the person responsible for making sure the previous two people (that were me) get paid. And it can be exhausting.
If this sounds awful to you, I have another proposal before you sign up for LinkedIn job alerts.
You could move to Gothenburg in Sweden and actually get paid to do whatever you want.
The Swedish government is offering a contract of 120 years to work at one of their new rail stations, Korsvagen which is currently under construction.
The position offers a starting salary of 21,000 SEK ($2,295 or €2,048) per month, annual paid holiday, and a pension. The salary rises by 3.2% each year.
The successful applicant doesn’t need to have any skills in construction, or have an engineering degree or experience in railway station management. The employee gets paid every year, for as many years as they like or until retirement…
… and they can do whatever they like. If they want to do nothing – that’s ok.
“Whatever the employee chooses to do constitutes as work”, they state in the job description.
The only stipulation is that they clock in and out of work each working day. They don’t even need to stay in the station once they’d clocked in.
Much like the Union Jack flies when the Queen is at Buckingham Palace or Holyrood Palace, special lights will illuminate this person’s presence at work. If the employee wishes to remain in the station, they can choose to be anonymous by hiding in one room or being visible in another room.
Does this seem like a dream or a joke? Well, it isn’t. It’s part of an art project commenting on the way that we’re living in a society where the return on capital is substantially higher than the average increase in wages. Which essentially means that employees are useless.
If you’d liked to apply for this position, you have some time to think about it. The application deadline is December 2025 with a starting date in March 2026. You can learn more about the opportunity and the two artists behind it here – Eternal Employment https://goldinsenneby.com/practice/eternal-employment/.
We might be considered useless by society, but we can make a difference by making sure that we do work that is both meaningful for others and for ourselves.
The idea of meaningful work is a hot topic these days. Let’s face it—many things could or should be deemed to be meaningful. Unfortunately, there’s no official process for considering any job as being so. Which leaves us with 5 million blog posts on the topic, and no simple explanation for guiding us toward our personal definition of meaningful work.
So, how do we define meaningful work? I think it’s work that matters not just to you but for others too. In every project you build for clients, find a way to make a difference in the lives of the people who will use it. If you can’t do this type of work, there’s little reason for taking on that project. Meaningful work for me is the same as what I consider meaningful living – and that is, to live (and work) in a way that reduces suffering in the world.
Doing meaningful work is not just for the select few. It can be, actually, it should be, for everyone. It shouldn’t matter what your job is. We all have meaning inside us that needs to be brought to life through our work. To do meaningful work means to find the intersection of who you are and what your work is going to mean to others.
When you ask someone what they do, how often do they tell you about the meaningful work they do? For some reason, many of us are conditioned to share only the best parts of our job rather than the meaningful impact we’re having on our communities. Even though that seems to be the most obvious thing for many people, I will start asking more people about what is meaningful for them.
We all have the potential to build something with meaning.
So, what is meaningful about the work you do?