This paper introduces a new method to formulate reaction progress variables for the application of FGM in combustion systems. The method involves a multiobjective optimisation to find a reaction progress variable that accurately reproduces complex reactive phenomenon of interest. In our current research, the method is applied to igniting non-premixed flames. The optimised progress variable combinations are evaluated for their accuracy in reproducing detailed chemistry results for the ignition of hydrocarbon fuels. Comparisons are made against conventional progress variable formulations used in the literature. The current approach takes into consideration the table resolution and error reduction for the application of FGM in combustion problems. Methods that rely on maximising the smoothness of the manifold or ensuring monotonic increase in progress variables alone are shown to be insufficient to capture ignition. The possibility of optimising the progress variable with emphasis on accurately resolving a particular zone or phase of combustion, such as ignition, while maintaining minimum data loss is demonstrated. Through its application in a number of igniting counterflow flames, the effectiveness of the current method is verified. Progress variables optimised using specific flame databases are shown to accurately reproduce the ignition delays even with moderate variations in boundary conditions of the respective flames.