Leon Pahole

I've learned a lot about learning in 2022; 2023 will be the year of going back to basics

4 minProgrammingPersonalLearning

Written by Leon Pahole

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Cover image source: Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Post contents: A short retrospective of my learning journey in 2022 and plans for 2023.

As a web developer, I’ve spent a lot of time in 2022 investing in my greatest asset: knowledge. I’ve read blog posts and books, kept up with new technology developments by following social media and email newsletters and built a lot of projects, both personal and professional. I also gained a very deep understanding of React.js, which culminated with a talk I gave at the OTS 2022 conference.

It was a great year and I cannot wait for all the great things I will learn in 2023.

Learning about learning

Apart from all the technical knowledge I’ve discovered in 2022, there’s however another really important realization that I’ve made - there’s an infinite amount of content out there. The internet is a space of vast amounts of information. If you aren’t careful, you can spend months reading about a single topic, processing blog post after blog post, video after video.

The current landscape in web development doesn’t help the issue - new libraries, frameworks and tools are being released on an almost daily basis, and keeping up with all of this is tremendously difficult.

When I started my learning journey in 2022, I tried my best to process all of this vast information. But I’ve quickly realized that (1) constant information processing prevented me from putting the knowledge into practice by building real projects, (2) I forgot things I’ve learned relatively quickly, and (3) I felt unhappy with myself and my progress, as I always knew that there was more unprocessed content about a specific topic out there - and not processing it would make me feel like I hadn’t mastered the concept yet. My inner perfectionist didn’t help the issue here, either.

This is why I decided to pivot my learning habits mid 2022 by introducing a few simple guidelines:

  1. For all new technologies, only the Why and When should be learned - Why and When would we use this technology? The How is not important - it changes all the time with new versions anyway, and can be learned during practice.

  2. For every 1 hour of learning, there should be at least 3 hours of practice (building projects).

  3. I should have no more than 3 things I’m focusing on at the given time.

These rules help me fight my inner perfectionist, hone my skills by bulding projects and keep me happy with my progress. They make me feel a lot more confident in my knowledge and prevent me from banging my head against a wall of content for hours.

So in 2022 I’ve made an important realization - it’s not about how much content I can process and memorize, it’s about prioritization and organization of the non-stop flow of content in a way to not be overwhelmed. It’s about pulling out only the concepts that will actually matter in the long run and make me a better engineer (the Why and the When), and ignoring the parts that will be forgotten (the How). And of course, it’s about putting the theory into practice.

Looking forward

I can’t wait to keep learning more about learning in 2023! My focus this year is on going back to basics.

With change being the only constant in the world today, everyone keeps stressing how important it is for everyone to be adaptable.

I believe that adaptability is one of my strong suits and it’s on the list of my 6 values. My plan for 2023 is to strive toward adaptability by going back to basics.

Behind all the fancy technology of the modern-day web frameworks and tools are the building blocks that have always been and always will be present. For example, on the front end, all sophisticated tools boil down to JavaScript, CSS and HTML. This is why I think it is crucial for all front-end developers to understand them - how can we build a house if we don’t understand what a brick is?

In 2022, my learning path was kind of inverted: I spent the first part of the year learning about ReactJS, and the second part learning about JavaScript, CSS and HTML. In reality, it should have been the opposite.

In 2023, I will focus even more on the three core web technologies. Does that mean that I am renouncing the frameworks and fancy tools? Far from it! In fact, I’m going back to basics in order to be able to leverage and understand these tools better.

It will also enable me to be even more adaptable - it’s great to have a deep understanding of ReactJS, but I believe that having a deep understanding of JavaScript, CSS and HTML makes me technology-agnostic. I can work with Vue, Angular or Svelte just the same.

In 2023 I am therefore going from a React and Node developer to a web developer, by going back to basics.

Happy 2023 everyone!