The problem solving capacity of the human brain is beyond compare. When humans figured out farming we redefined our entire way of life. Gone were the days when we roamed around in search of life sustaining sustenance like every other living creature. We had moved from a dependence on the environment to masters of our fate through understanding and problem solving.
Since then, every other human endeavor has been about manipulating the world around us to solve our problems. We started at acting like we owned the world and the concept of possession was created. Governments were developed to ensure ownership and eventually the mutual growth of all it's people.
In the past, people would trade one problem solving service or item for another to share the wealth and progress, but soon the invention of money as a way of standardizing the value of particular solutions allowed everyone to make use of their efforts on problems and allowed value to be understood universally.
So, what does this all have to do with commodities? Commodities are products with little to no differentiation and a consistent market.
Get this because it will make all the difference on your life; thinking in terms of “trading your time for money” means thinking of your life as a commodity. When you are young you go to work at McDonalds and trade your time for a paycheck. You go to college and study so you can be in a market for a higher value on your time.
Here is another life lesson: the only reason an employer would hire you is because you solve a problem bigger than the paycheck you garner (especially considering that the default is to do nothing).
Here is my point, if you want to make your life matter think of spending your time in such a way that you either learn how to solve the biggest problems possible or you spend time implementing your solution. Trust me, just understanding a problem may be half the battle.
This may lead to a lot of the same paths; you may still study engineering or go work for a big firm. However, you will change your focus from allowing others to use a part of your life at a given rate to becoming a master of your own fate and seeking out problems that allow your time to be much more valuable (not only for your employer, but for yourself).