I recently walked away from two business propositions: a real estate book contract and a job relaunching the real estate vertical of a newspaper-run Web site. The real estate book market is highly competitive and the compensation so small as to make the book a vanity project. The job offered a "six-figure" salary (the recruiter refused be specific) and benefits, but required a lengthy commute and the perils of full-time employment at a company that's had multiple rounds of layoffs. Still, I can't help wondering: Have I ruined my career or saved my life? Or both?