What I Learned in 2023

Simon Baars
3 min readJan 22, 2024

In high school, we had to write reflection documents for subjects. Gosh, writing those documents was boring!

I don’t think any tool truly works until you internalize its value.

This year, more than ever, I reflected on the things I do. My reflections are scattered over daily diary entries, blog posts (of which more than half never made it public), and work logs.

Writing things down is one thing. Looking back at those writings and validating their contents is probably an even more important practice.

As a reflection of my year in writing, I hereby share the highlights of 2023.

My favorite articles of the year

If you’re new to my blog, and just want to check out some of what I made, consider checking out these articles.



Doing things my way

I’ve always liked to stray off the beaten path.

Whilst working in corporations, I was fighting a losing battle. Where the corporation liked to do things in very structured ways, I was striving after a more free-form approach towards solving the problems the corporation was dealing with. In the end, it didn’t work out.

Since the beginning of last year, I’ve been detached from the corporate system, which meant complete freedom to do things my way. This meant:

  • A greater focus on personal development (learning accelerated by generative AI)
  • Writing as a form of self-reflection (for every blog I post publicly, I write at least two more documents with private self-reflections)
  • Coming in contact with awesome people (finding an awesome freelance job, meeting people with diverse technical interests, etc)

2023: The Year Of AI

Most new technologies have only a minor impact on my life. Not for generative AI. It improved my life greatly because it perfectly complements my curious mind. I’ve been able to build things I would never have been able to build without this tool. I also learned several new programming languages, mostly through prompting.

From my article Code Design is Dead, the AI Owns the Codebase Now:

Programming means writing computer instructions. Every first year CS student struggles to understand how a computer thinks, because the computer doesn’t know how humans think. So humans writing code is just silly. Instead, we should hone the skill that we know best: natural language. The machine can do the rest :)

2024: Unlocking the mind

In 2023, I managed to create a lot of mental space by finding a lifestyle I love and reflecting often on what I do.

In 2024, I aim to further unlock my mind:

  • Get rid of distractions entirely: I think digital distractions generally don’t lead to happiness or fulfillment. It’s been a long-running quest of mine to get such distractions to zero. Last year I’ve made great steps to that end, so this year I will cut all such distractions down entirely.
  • Foster a positive attitude towards anything that helps me grow: Last year, I’ve learned that approaching everything with playfulness and positivity greatly transformed my environment. Even when faced with adversity, positivity goes a long way. This year, I will further internalize such a mentality.
  • Seek out new experiences, preferably outside my comfort zone: “I want to get out of my comfort zone” is an easy (and cliché) thing to say, but incredibly hard to execute. Getting out of your comfort zone is generally not a fun experience. But exactly that pain is what invites growth. This year, I will be on the lookout for things I subconsciously avoid.
  • Reach new heights: Last year, I’ve made incredible steps in my career. It also means that the impact of the code I write is expanding. This year, I may have opportunities to solve real-life safety issues and societal problems through the code that I write.

So far for my new year’s resolutions :)

2024, let’s go!



Simon Baars

Yet another guy making the internet more chaotic with random content.