“I just find it hard to keep things simple out here.” Authentic words spoken from a rookie as she walked the fairways of her third event as a professional.

In preparation for the IOA Championship this week, I was paired with two rookies for a practice round. At first glance they were strangers. After a doubletake, we vaguely remembered crossing paths during our junior and college golf days. It only took a few holes until we reconnected and were deep into conversation about life on tour. I was interested to see how they were fairing during their short time as professionals. They were seeking advice I had to offer with one year at my back.

There were the obvious tips that I could share with them – the lessons that came from my biggest failures. However, when one of the players made that statement about simplicity, my mind fumbled. At that moment, I didn’t have an answer to help bring her boiling pot of a rookie year to simmer.

I was coming off a hectic two days of travel and I was wrestling with calming things down myself. So, when we finished the round, that two syllable word echoed through my brain. With so many pieces to this professional golf puzzle, how do we break it down to one big picture?

First, you are now at a higher level of golf and up against players that have walked the tour trail for years. Not only that, but golf also becomes your livelihood. Then there is everything besides the actual game – creating a schedule, booking travel, keeping track of finances, adjusting to different environments, figuring out how to handle loneliness, maintaining a good diet, keeping your body healthy. And in the midst of it all, finding success and happiness along the way.

When I was going through all of that last year, I couldn’t find the answer. The road was too bumpy, curvy and unknown to see any clear path. It was when I parked my car in my driveway for the off season that I could begin my quest for simplicity. It took soul searching, reflecting and speaking with my family and friends. However, the key came to me in written words from one of my favorite authors.

The answer was hidden in between the pages of Jon Gordon’s book, One Word. I figured if anything could have a chance at simplifying this life, one word could be it. The book took me through a process of determining a word that struck a chord in my heart and served as a North Star when the skies get covered with clouds.

For my fiancé́, his word for the year came quickly. Mine on the other hand, took more time and thought before I recognized the signs all around me. Sparked by this season of engagement and leading up to my wedding, I decided it was the year of love. Outside of planning a wedding, there were many signs in my golf life that led me to this word.

In reflection, I found that the complexity of this life and adversity from the game had put a blanket on the reason I do it in the first place – for the love of it. Love for the game. Love for the process of getting better every single day. Love for failure – I know that sounds funny, but when we realize our greatest growth comes from our biggest failure there is really not much to be afraid of at all. Love for travel, even in the most hectic times. Love for seeing new places and experiencing new cultures even when it might be uncomfortable and lonely. Love for all the people around you and the ones supporting you, near and far. Love for this opportunity called life.

Often the craziness of our circumstances and challenges cast a dark shadow over the meaning behind it all. We are here to love and be loved. So, when things get complicated, let’s simplify – do all things with love.