Good question. When you create an animation/art piece that you deem successful, you can go on a drawing high (idk if this goes for everyone). Basically sometimes you get a momentum going and you do good over and over, for a time (factor could include your pride of the piece, or your boss gave you lots of mones).
After that wears off, now references are your supports. When I'm stuck, i go to places where it might inspire me for the theme of the project (museum for classical stuff etc.) Or if you are an indoor, I go to pinterest or instagram or whatever art sites out there that give you the artists and pieces of art work that most inspire you. Sometimes I scroll through insta at night and the illustrations there gives me motivation to draw more, cuz cool art.
Same thing can be translated to animation for me (good animation, studying flow of movement frame by frame, etc.) really makes you appreciate all the creative ways people makes things move.
If you're going to gamedev, the classic 2d fighting games seems to have a lot of cool animation moves if thats what you're after, I know the Fire Emblem games from the Game Boy Advance has some swift ass moves
idk whats the state of 2019 but 3D animation is dominating in the movie industries I think, still lots of 2D shows around though. and the animu
Also thats a drastic change from a lab job to artist, hope you got it all figured out OP
I'll be check on your progress